If you want to maintain your suede footwear style, you’ll need to know how to clean suede shoes without ruining them.
This often happens when suede shoes are prone to weather damage, stains or general wear and tear over time. What’s more, the soft, ‘velvety’ nature of the material makes it easier to pick up grime, oils or dirt build-up, which can ruin the stylish feel and overall look of your suede shoes.
In any case, how to clean suede shoes without ruining them can be tricky if not done properly. Unlike knowing how to clean white shoes or how to remove oil stains from clothes, you can’t soak in soapy water or simply throw into the washing machine. In addition, you don’t want to risk making a stain or mark worse by scrubbing with the wrong cleaning products.
Luckily, we’ve done the research and found the best way to safely clean suede shoes with just a few household items. In fact, it’s not that difficult to do, and only takes a few quick and easy steps. So if you want to keep your suede footwear looking sharp, here’s how to clean suede shoes.
Dealing with sneakers instead? Check out how to clean sneakers in 4 easy steps.
How to clean suede shoes in four steps
Suede brush or toothbrush
Suede eraser or rubber
Face flannel or microfibre cloth
1. First, use a suede brush or toothbrush to gently brush off any dirt or loose particles on the surface of the shoe. Use light brush strokes to brush in the same direction as the grain/pattern, and for stubborn grime, use a back-and-forth motion to gently remove set-in dirt. We recommend this Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner ($7, Amazon) to get rid of dirt.
2. Next up, rub out any stains or small marks with a suede eraser. Gently rub back and forth over the mark, taking care not to rub too hard and scratching the material. This Colourlock Suede & Nubuck Eraser ($13, Amazon) is ideal for gently buffing away stains.
3. If you’re tackling tough stains, clean with white vinegar. Take a flannel or microfiber cloth, dip in white vinegar and gently rub the stain. Be careful not to soak the surface with vinegar, just lightly dampen it.
Repeat until the stain is removed, then leave to dry before brushing the surface for a neat look. If you’re interested in the cleaning power of white vinegar check out what makes baking soda and white vinegar so good at cleaning.
4. Once the shoes are clean, apply a suede protector. Most suede protectors are pre-treated to resist stains or moisture so always go for a protector specifically formulated for suede. We can recommend Jak Snow's Magic Spray - Non toxic Suede & Nubuck Protector Spray ($14, Amazon) to spruce up your suede.
How to remove oil or grease stains from suede shoes
When you have an unfortunate grease stain on your shoes, it can be a nightmare. However, applying cornstarch to the area can soak up the grease and save the day! Simply leave the cornstarch on for a few hours before gently scraping off with a brush. Repeat until the stain has gone.
For stubborn oil stains, leave dish soap on the area for about 10 minutes. Then rinse by blotting a damp cloth over the stain until all traces of soap (and stain) have gone.